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Four ways social HR will transform business in 2013

Posted by Chad O'Connor  December 20, 2012 11:00 AM

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‘Tis the season for decking the halls and finalizing 2013 budgets. As you and your company crunch the figures for the year ahead, there’s something that can dramatically alter your bottom line to get on your radar: Social HR. Over the coming months and years, businesses that don’t embrace social HR will not only struggle to retain employees but companies that don’t understand what this is all about will struggle to survive at all.

2013 will be the year that social HR shifts from being a buzzword to a business imperative. Social HR is so much more than letting your employees tweet or use Facebook. It’s way more than social recruiting. Social HR, if done right, has the potential to transform your business and your employees into a powerhouse of productivity, motivation and actionable insights. So stop thinking of human resources as a department for hiring and firing and start thinking about these four ways social HR can transform your business in 2013.

1) Employees in charge
First, management needs to recognize that there's been a confluence of events that are putting more power in the hands of employees than ever before. The spread of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movements and the new norm of allowing social networking to be part of day-to-day work provides employees with more control. For instance, a recent Cisco study found that more than half of millennials won't work at a company that bans social networking.

Also, economic timing plays a role in this shift of power. We're coming out of a recession, and the political focus in North America is all about getting people to work. Recruiting will be back on the rebound, which means there will finally be more power in the hands of job seekers.

Tech companies saw it earlier, but more employers will realize in 2013 that individual employees are now brands’ social ambassadors and they play an essential role in not only bringing new clients and talent onboard but also in conveying awareness of your organization and your company culture to the world.

2.) Make corporate culture training part of onboarding.
Whether or not you acknowledge it, your company already has a culture. All businesses have one, either by design or (more commonly) by default. The challenge lies in fostering a culture that is truly exceptional from the moment an employee walks in for an interview. Why? Because companies with exceptional cultures attract and retain the best employees, nurture strong and lasting customer relationships, and deliver consistently solid business results.

It is generally accepted that an idea that gets buy-in from key stakeholders from the get-go has a better chance of success than something that is introduced in the middle of things. With that in mind, it is best to start on day one by defining your company culture before the new employee does it on their own. Provide them with language on how to talk about values and what the company does best. Give suggestions on when to share things about the company, like events, milestones, or even job openings and recognition, on their personal social channels. And, most importantly: live up to the values you establish to set an example.

3) Reinventing performance management.
A recent study published by Ventana Research found that 77 percent of executives and managers say the performance of the workforce is the most important metric, and performance reviews are the most regularly applied type of analytics in half of organizations. But tradition has us only sitting down once a year and hearing how the boss thinks you stack up. In 2013 everything of value is done in “real-time” and your employee review process should be done that way, too.

To get a more complete picture of employee performance, managers should collect feedback on an ongoing basis from peers, direct reports, and other workplace associates. Making this a regular occurrence across levels and departments makes it more social and actionable. Continuous feedback allows for faster recognition of a problem facing an employee but also for the success of a particular employee. If there is something being done well, this also provides managers an opportunity to give kudos to a deserving employee, maybe even sharing the recognition across an employee’s network.

To take the review process one step further, companies should think about creating a review system that ties back to company culture. An SHRM/Globoforce study found that 51 percent of HR professionals say their company’s recognition program does not currently relate to corporate values. Adding these elements to the review process will build a culture of positive reinforcement and real-time accountability that leads back to the beliefs at the core of your organization.

4) Unlock HR intelligence.
Big data isn’t just for sales and accounting anymore. In 2013, harnessing the power of large sets of data is a best practice for forward thinking HR departments. One area where data – social data in particular - is making a difference is in the hiring process. According to another recent survey by SHRM, 56 percent of HR professionals said they use social networking sites to recruit candidates, up from 34 percent in 2008. Ninety-five percent of HR professionals in this poll said they use LinkedIn; 58 percent use Facebook. About 42 percent use Twitter.

It is also advantageous for businesses to take a step back and analyze their own personnel data to pull out trends both positive and problematic to illuminate areas for improvement. Recently we published a report which found that at over 2,000 small and medium sized businesses women received more raises than men, but men received larger raises. By taking the time to spot trends like this in their own data before they impact their corporate culture, companies will save time, money and potentially their reputation.

Making HR more social means constantly working to quantify social intangibles, sharing performance data within and across departments, letting employees take charge of their own performances, developing ongoing feedback processes, and promoting a culture and common set of values that employees actually believe in. Companies that want to be well positioned need to make these HR management strategies real in 2013.

Joseph Fung is the Co-founder and CEO of TribeHR, pioneer of the industry’s first social HR platform, headquartered in Boston and Waterloo, ON.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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